A Time for Change — but not Retirement!

By summer 2024, Andy Paget will have completed 28 years as a force chaplain with Avon & Somerset Police and more than 22 years as Lead Chaplain.  His service began in 1996 when he was appointed as chaplain to the Central Bristol District.  Within a few years, with the merger of three districts, it became the third largest BCU in the country.Andy Paget 1

Andy served for over ten years on the National Exec of what was then The National Association of Chaplains to the Police (now PCUK) as South West Regional Coordinator.  Together with David Wilbraham, and after several visits to Wales, he assisted at the birth of the Dyfed Powys Police Chaplaincy.

Andy leads a team of fourteen volunteer chaplains, serving the six and a half thousand members of Avon & Somerset’s police family. He also coordinates the A&S victim-focused multi-faith response to major emergencies.  Last year, his team serving the Command & Control Department won the Volunteer Team of the Year Award, and were nominated for a further regional award.  In May, Andy was given the Constabulary’s Outstanding Lifetime Service Award during a dinner at the Pump Rooms in Bath.  He comments, “The mystery for me is how the organisation gets to know more than a small fragment of what we do. So much takes place off-the-radar, in the confidential space of one to one contact with individuals. Sometimes we feel that we are the Force’s best kept secret!”

Andy Paget 2The more visible face of chaplaincy appears during major incidents.  This year, in a little over three weeks, A&SC has responded to six brutal murders—three fatal stabbings of juveniles and the murder of three young children, including a nine month old baby.

At a time when public confidence the Police seems to be hanging by a thread, Andy echoes what we all affirm: “Perhaps the greatest but often ‘unsung’ good news story is that, throughout the country, every day, the vast majority of police officers and staff are demonstrating their professionalism, their dedication to duty, their courage, their kindness and their compassion.”

Responding to kind words from CC Sarah Crew and PCC Mark Shelford at the award ceremony last May, Andy said, “It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve the greatest police service in the world with Avon & Somerset second to none.”

Andy informed the Constabulary in autumn 2022 that he planned to pass on the lead role no later than the end of 2024, with a target date of September 1st, but he will to continue to serve as a volunteer chaplain to the National Police Air Service and perhaps to his local A&SC police station in Kingswood.

Part of Andy’s legacy, after his many years in a part-time role, will be A&SC’s creation of a full-time salaried post for his successor at a time when it has to make £23m in cuts over two years.  The vacancy will be announced during the next few weeks. Andy Paget 3

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